Dear Whidbey, when Harry Chapin sang, “It’s got to be the going, not the getting there that’s good,” he was talking about you. Getting to Whidbey Island is a magical experience unto itself, no matter how you choose to travel.
Maximize efficiency and adventure: take the ferry from Mulkiteo to Clinton
If you have a vehicle and you’re coming from the mainland (where else?), the gorgeous 30-minute ferry ride from Mulkiteo, a short drive from Seattle (around 40 minutes depending on traffic), is not to be beat. Washington State Department of Transportation makes it easy to plan your trip. The schedule can change slightly by season, but expect to have plenty of options on this well-traveled route. Sailings from Mulkiteo to the island’s ferry port in Clinton run on the half hour between 5:05am and 11:00pm each day through most of the year. Return trips begin at 4:40am, with the last sail departing Clinton at 11:45pm. Check ferry wait times on WSDOT before you go – lines can get long on summer weekends.
Fortunately, on the Mulkiteo side you’ll find Diamond Knot Brewhouse across the street from the dock. They’ve got your back when the wait times get gnarly, and an Ivar’s outpost at the head of the car line will keep down the hangry when you need something fast.
The fares for the ferry crossing are light, especially considering that the glorious mountain views and occasional whale sightings come free. A standard vehicle and driver ride for just $12.25, and adult passengers between 19-64 years old travel for $5.55 a piece. And yes, the important thing: the snack bars onboard serve a small selection of local beers and wine.
Maximize beautiful views and roadtrip miles: cross the Deception Pass Bridge
If you relish the open road, travel to Mount Vernon, Washington (about an hour from Seattle and two from Vancouver, BC, depending on traffic) to hit the western tail of Highway 20 and the majestic Deception Pass Bridge from Fidalgo Island to Whidbey. The bridge makes for an iconic American drive, with a breathtaking view of some of Washington’s finest coastal moorland and Puget Sound water. On this route, a stop at The Shrimp Shack should not be missed.
Maximize sky miles and style points: fly private Lynk Air
Confession: we haven’t tried this option, but if money’s no object, how could winging your way to Whidbey be anything but amazing. With your own private ex-Navy pilot captaining your jet for-hire, you can make it from Sea-Tac airport to Oak Harbor on the north end of Whidbey in just 20 minutes. Woah. Few things are more spectacular than arriving at a 5-acre sanctuary on Whidbey Island, where your own serene treehouse home awaits. But when these are your options for getting there, the journey will be half the fun.